In vitro fertilisation, or IVF, is a popular option for couples who need help in the conception department—in Australia, here were 16,310 babies born through IVF treatment performed in Australia and New Zealand in 2019, according to a study by the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit (NPESU) at UNSW—but while the procedure is increasingly common, there’s still a lot of confusion around it.
The first thing you might notice when doing your research (and something I certainly noticed when I joined an IVF support Facebook group) is the insane amount of acronyms and medical terms that come up. And sure, as you go ahead with treatment a lot of these begin to make more sense, but others can still leave you confused no matter how many times you hear them.
To help you prepare, here are the most important IVF acronyms and terms you might hear along the way:
Advanced embryo selection: A preimplantation genetic diagnosis test that screens all chromsomes in a developing embryo allowing selection and fresh transfer of the embryo with the best chance of success.
AH (Assisted Hatching): The procedure in which the outer layer of the embryo (called the zona) is thinned by a laser to help the embryo implant more easily.
Anti sperm antibodies: Antibodies (that can develop in the bodies of either men or women) block the movement or function of the sperm.
ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology): A collective term for fertility treatments.
Blastocyst: The term for an embryo five days after fertilisation which has now developed a special shape with different parts identifiable and a fluid-filled cavity.
Cervix: The neck of the womb. The embryo transfer normally involves passing a small soft catheter through this.
Curettage (D&C): Having the contents or the lining of the uterus removed under anaesthetic, either by scraping it with an instrument (called a curette) or by suctioning out with a soft plastic tube.
Digital High Magnification: This is the most advanced method of performing MSOME selection of sperm for optimum fertilisation.
Donor insemination: The use of sperm from a male donor in order to achieve a pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy that implants in the wrong part of the body most commonly in a fallopian tube. This pregnancy cannot develop in to a baby but can pose severe problems for the mother.
Egg collection: The stage of an IVF treatment cycle where the woman’s eggs are collected under vaginal ultrasound.
Embryo: Once the egg has joined with the sperm it is called an embryo.
Embryo transfer: The stage of an IVF treatment cycle where the embryo is transferred back to the woman’s uterus via a fine catheter.
Endometriosis: The presence of the normal lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) in abnormal locations in the body such as the Fallopian tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity.
Endometrium: The membrane lining the inside of the uterus.
Fallopian tube: The fallopian tube runs from the ovary to the uterus along which the egg normally travels and where the egg and sperm normally join together.
Follicle: The bag of fluid that surrounds the egg and which can usually be seen on the ultrasound scan.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone produced and released from the pituitary gland, to stimulate the follicle (and thus the egg) to grow.
Follicular phase: The first half of a woman’s ovarian cycle following menstruation and during which the follicles grow.
Gamete: A word that describes both the male and female reproductive cells i.e. the sperm and egg.
HCG: The hormone that is produced by the embryo and is measured in a pregnancy test. Injections of hCG can be used to trigger maturation of the egg followed by ovulation. Injections of hCG may also be used to maintain hormone levels in the second half (luteal phase) of the cycle.
HyCoSy: An ultrasound procedure to test whether or not the fallopian tubes are blocked. It involves the injection of a dye through the cervix and into the uterus.
Hypothalamus: An area of the brain that produces hormones that control body temperature, appetite and the release of hormones from the endocrine glands.
Hysterosalpingogram: A specialised x-ray procedure to test whether or not the fallopian tubes are blocked. It also involves the injection of a dye through the cervix and into the uterus.
Hysteroscopy: A procedure normally carried out under anaesthetic where the cervix is dilated to allow a small camera to pass through the cervix into the lower end of the uterus to give a clear view of the lining of the uterus.
ICSI (Intracytoppasmic Sperm Injection): The fertility technique where a single sperm is selected and directly injected into an egg. High Magnification ICSI uses extremely high magnification to help sperm selection for specific patients.
Implantation: The embedding of the embryo in the lining of the uterus 6-7 days after fertilisation.
IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically selected Sperm Injection): This is the name of the technique where scientists inject MSOME selected sperm in to an egg to assist fertilisation. We use Digital High Magnification for this technique.
Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI): Treatment that involves inserting the partner’s concentrated semen through the neck of the womb into the uterus itself close to the time of ovulation.
IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation): The procedure, by which an egg and sperm are joined together outside the body, in a specialised laboratory. The fertilised egg (embryo) is allowed to grow in a protected environment for some days before being placed back (transferred) into the uterus.
Laparoscopy: Keyhole surgery that involves inserting a small telescope (laparoscope) through the abdominal wall so that the pelvic organs can clearly be seen.
Luteal phase: The last 14 days of a menstrual cycle after ovulation.
LH (Luteinising Hormone): A hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland. It is responsible for triggering ovulation.
MSOME (Motile Sperm organelle morphology examination): Assessing sperm shape under very high magnification.
Oestrogen (or Estrogen): The primary female hormone produced mainly from the ovary from puberty until the menopause.
Oocyte: The fully mature egg produced from the ovary each month.
Oosight: This is an approach to identifying the position, structure and normality of the chromosomal spindle (the genetic material) in the egg prior to ICSI fertilisation.
Ovarh Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): A condition where women over-respond to the fertility drugs and can develop severe fluid retention and abdominal swelling.
Ovaries: The female sex glands which produce eggs.
Ovulation: The time the egg is released.
Ovulation Induction: Medication used to stimulate growth and release of the eggs. This may be used in combination with Intra-Uterine Insemination.
Pituitary Gland: The gland located at the base of the brain, which controls most hormone functions in the human.
Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): Testing the genetic makeup of the embryo before it is transferred back into the woman.
Progesterone: The hormone produced by the ovary after ovulation to maintain the pregnancy.
Semen: The ejaculated fluid comprising sperm and other secretions of the sex glands of the male.
Sonohysterogram: A sonohysterogram (ultrasound) or hysterosalpingogram (HSG) are diagnostic tests used to discover abnormalities in the uterine cavity and test if the fallopian tubes are normal.
Spermatozoa (sperm): The male reproductive cells (gametes).
Uterus (womb): The female reproductive organ that supports the developing fetus. It is the source of a woman’s menstruation.
Ultrasound (scan): A modified form of radar used to see the follicles in the ovary and pregnancy in the uterus. This may be done either through the abdomen or (more usual in IVF) through the vagina.
Vasectomy: A form of contraception for men where the vas deferens (the tube along which the sperm passes) is tied off or clipped.
Vas Deferens: The tube that transports the sperm from the testes.
*Definitions courtesy of IVF Australia.
Source @womenshealth.com.au: Read more at : womenalive.org